The big TelkomSA-R problem

Telkom has said that it is still optimising its network after switching roaming providers from MTN to Vodacom. Subscribers on Telkom LTE-only contracts and similar packages using “on-network” data have been reporting problems since the switchover started on 1 July.

The new partnership was meant to bring seamless roaming on the Vodacom LTE network to Telkom subscribers.

To make this work, Telkom created a new “virtual” network called TelkomSA-R.

Based on feedback from Telkom, the intention is that you will connect to the TelkomSA network whenever you are within the coverage area of Telkom’s own infrastructure. When you move outside that coverage area, you will “roam” onto TelkomSA-R, which is actually powered by Vodacom’s network.

Many Telkom subscribers are experiencing a problem where, for seemingly no reason, their devices will connect to the TelkomSA-R network and refuse to switch back. This is happening in areas where there is TelkomSA coverage.

When this happens, customers who buy data that can only be used on Telkom’s own network, which is sold as “LTE/LTE-A only” contracts or bundles, are disconnected from the Internet and unable to use their data allocations.

Telkom also sends subscribers an “out of bundle” SMS which recipients say is misleading, as the message tells subscribers that they are out of data and need to load a new bundle. Subscribers argue that they are not out of data, but have merely been disconnected from the TelkomSA network for unknown reasons.

Ongoing problems

When MyBroadband first asked Telkom about this issue, the company said that it expects to have ironed out all the major problems by the end of July.

This does not appear to have happened, with subscribers still complaining about this and other problems, including:

  • 2G doesn’t work on the TelkomSA-R network
  • Poorer battery life
  • Subscribers are still randomly connected to TelkomSA-R and have no way to force their devices to connect to the TelkomSA network.

There are also reports of degraded call quality, though these reports don’t all agree. Some are reporting much poorer call quality while others are reporting better quality and fewer dropped calls.

Telkom responds

Asked for an update on the issues subscribers are complaining about, Telkom said it was working to resolve these problems.

“We know and understand that 2G (Edge) is not the best technology for data usage,” the company said.

“We have ongoing optimisation activities to ensure that customers attach to roaming 3G and LTE in areas where we don’t have on-net coverage.”

“We are continuously optimising and expanding the network to ensure that our customers experience better connectivity,” Telkom added.

“We are not aware of battery issues, however, given that we now have access to LTE roaming, it is expected that customer devices will consume more power if they attach to LTE.”

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The big TelkomSA-R problem